212 IT companies and research institutions have officially been allowed to designate themselves as members of the European Gaia-X cloud alliance since the end of March. This also includes various companies from China and the USA such as Huawei, Alibaba, Haier, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Palantir and Salesforce. So far, these have not counted as prime examples of the values preached by the Gaia-X initiators, such as data protection, digital sovereignty, trust, transparency and openness.
All applicants accepted
That the three big US hyperscalers Amazon, Google and Microsoft wanted to get involved in Gaia-X had already become apparent in the fall. Many of the other international IT companies were already on circulating lists of applicants. But it was only officially made last week by the sole European board of directors of the non-profit Gaia-X company based in Brussels.
All of the 212 applicants had been accepted, said the Gaia-X communication team afterwards. Around 40 percent of the new members are cloud and IT providers, 36 percent user companies, associations, scientific institutions or non-profit organizations and 25 percent start-ups. More than 92 percent are European companies, the rest come mainly from Asia and North America.
Trust label announced
The infrastructure initiative sees the “great interest” in membership as confirmation that “the Gaia-X goals are important”. Many market participants wanted to make sure that the cloud project would be a success. Expectations continued to be high for new services that would also make it easier to share data via federated cloud services.
The board of directors decided according to the announcement also to create a Gaia-X trust label that should only be awarded to services or products that fully adhere to the principles of the initiative. The exact criteria for this would be drawn up in the coming weeks on the basis of recommendations from the committees for technology and regulation. Companies that relied on a service marked with the logo could be sure that the solutions complied with European law and guaranteed data portability, the highest IT security criteria and clear transparency around the use of data.
Strict adherence to the rules
The board of directors also decided that the “trust mark” could also be given to institutions that were not members of the Gaia-X network. On the other hand, membership in the foundation does not mean that all the services of an affiliated company are entitled to use the label on their products.
“In the past, several companies have published misleading statements by announcing that they are already Gaia-X members or that they provide Gaia-X-compliant services,” the board of directors complained. The aim is therefore to “send a strong signal that the above-mentioned rules must be strictly adhered to”.
Subject of dispute Palantir
Palantir, for example, proudly announced in December that it would be at the forefront of this prestigious European project right from the start. The big data company from the USA was not one of the first 22 founding members of the Gaia-X company, which was officially announced in September. These included names such as Atos, BMW, Bosch, DE-CIX, Deutsche Telekom, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Orange, OVH, SAP and Siemens.
Since Palantir works closely with secret services such as the CIA and the NSA as well as the US military, the announcement of the company’s application to Gaia-X has already met with sharp criticism. As the ‘deputy sheriff’ of authoritarian governments, it represents the opposite of Europe’s interests and undermines the goal of digital sovereignty, opponents complained. Of the mirror reported“Europol, for example, ended its collaboration with the” scary “company after a few years, disaffected, and the added value of Palantir solutions also seems doubtful when it comes to fighting pandemics.
Basic components are missing, limited demand expected
In response to renewed concerns, Marco-Alexander Breit, AI expert in the Federal Ministry of Economics, emphasized that all Gaia-X members are allowed to participate in the ongoing standardization efforts. However, they are not automatically allowed to participate in the desired ecosystem themselves or to decorate their services with the trust mark.
The Board of Directors is now expecting the first solutions with the Gaia-X label in December, whereas at the beginning of the spring, there was talk. Maximilian Ahrens, Chief Technology Officer at the Telekom subsidiary T-Systems responsible for the cloud project, recently expressed his regrets in the World on sundaythat the specifications for the “Federation Services” of Gaia-X have not yet been published. So far, basic components for the network have been missing. At the same time, he criticized the fact that there has so far been little demand from the public sector. Without such a commitment from the public sector, Gaia-X is unlikely to function.